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The Digital Transformation of CRM
When the world is changing, businesses must do the same.
For the rest of the December 2013 issue of CRM magazine please click here
Page 1



I promised long ago that I would never do a wrap-up or a predictions article at year's end. I've never liked them; to be fair, everyone says the same thing anyway. So let's just call this a status report.

In the column "The Big Three" (CRM, April 2012), I looked at the three problems CRM continues to face: data, purpose, and knowledge. They have not yet been fixed (if you are working toward those, breathe easy) and likely won't be for a while, but progress has been seen across all three fronts.

I have spent a large part of this past year writing about the paradigm shift we are beginning to experience in knowledge management (the change from knowledge-in-storage to knowledge-in-use assisted by the rise of online communities and social networks) and will continue to explore that topic going forward; it is near and dear to my heart. I have discovered many interesting vendors starting down that path, and will share more as the years (yes, it is going to be that long a process) go on.

As for data, we saw some progress in better defining big data (hint: drop one of the words, deal with the other) and use of data from all around to strengthen the work we do in CRM. The change of direction in messaging and communication from outbound (push, from the company perspective) to inbound (pull, from the customer perspective) is yielding some interesting data, leaving organizations trying to figure out what to do with it. We're in the early days; this is definitely something to plan and invest in going forward.

As for purpose, I wish I could have said it better than my good friend (and CRM's guru emeritus) Paul Greenberg, who earlier this year wrote a series for Diginomica.com on making sense of CRM for the future. He wrote about the expansion of CRM to social CRM and the subsequent move from social CRM as a new model toward the end-to-end, ecosystem-based models espoused by a concept known as digital transformation.

Not only is digital transformation changing the face of CRM, it is changing the face of business. If you are seriously looking for one topic or area to focus on in 2014-plus, digital transformation is the one.

You've probably heard it called many things, but digital transformation is the business response to the changes in the world of digital, which embraces all the efforts mentioned above and more.

The recent growth in social networks, online communities, collaboration tools and technologies, data processing and management, reporting, and even cloud and performance are all data points that enable a smart CEO or CIO to see how the world is changing.

Trying to do outbound email campaigns in a world ruled by social networks is as close to idiotic as it can get; personalizing those campaigns based on inbound needs shown by each customer and delivering that message via the preferred pull channel is closer to what you are supposed to be doing (as a simple example). But how do your alter and change your business, your processes, your technologies, and your strategies to accomplish that?

This is where digital transformation becomes a very interesting discipline...and the one to watch in the next few years. As we start to change the way we do business, we realize the few morsels left by the recent years we can leverage:

  • Big data is just data; it forced us to think how to use it in near-real time.
  • Social is just a set of channels; they enhance collaboration so we can work in ecosystems.
  • Cloud is a set of distributed computing technologies; they enable secure, fast, easy integration.
  • Knowledge is what powers the world of work; it is everywhere and must be used wisely.
  • The purpose of business has not changed—it is still all about making money. What changes are the serendipitous outcomes: happier customers, effective ecosystems, and improved delivery against known expectations in shorter timeframes.

There's your status for 2013. Check back with me next year and we may do it all again.

Happy new year.

Esteban Kolsky is the principal and founder of ThinkJar, an advisory and research think tank focused on customer strategies. He has more than 25 years of experience in customer service and CRM consulting, research, and advisory services. He spent eight years at Gartner, and has assisted Fortune 500 and Global 2000 organizations in all aspects of their CRM deployments.

 

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The Digital Transformation of CRM

When the world is changing, businesses must do the same

I

PROMISED LONG ago that I would never do a wrap-up or a predictions article at year’s end. I’ve never liked them; to be fair, everyone says the same thing anyway. So let’s just call this a status report.

In the column “The Big Three” (April 2012), I looked at the three problems CRM continues to face: data, purpose, and knowledge. They have not yet been fixed (if you are working toward those, breathe easy) and likely won’t be for a while, but progress has been seen across all three fronts.

I have spent a large part of this past year writing about the paradigm shift we are beginning to experience in knowledge management (the change from knowledge-in-storage to knowledge-in-use assisted by the rise of online communities and social networks) and will continue to explore that topic going forward; it is near and dear to my heart. I have discovered many interesting vendors starting down that path, and will share more as the years (yes, it is going to be that long a process) go on.

As for data, we saw some progress in better defining big data (hint: drop one of the words, deal with the ­other) and use of data from all around to strengthen the work we do in CRM. The change of direction in messaging and communication from outbound (push, from the company perspective) to inbound (pull, from the customer perspective) is yielding some interesting data, leaving organizations trying to figure out what to do with it. We’re in the early days; this is definitely something to plan and invest in going forward.

As for purpose, I wish I could have said it better than my good friend (and CRM’s guru emeritus) Paul Greenberg, who earlier this year wrote a series for Diginomica.com on making sense of CRM for the future. He wrote about the expansion of CRM to social CRM and the subsequent move from social CRM as a new model toward the end-to-end, ecosystem-based models espoused by a concept known as digital transformation.

Not only is digital transformation changing the face of CRM, it is changing the face of business. If you are seriously looking for one topic or area to focus on in 2014-plus, digital transformation is the one.

You’ve probably heard it called many things, but digital transformation is the business response to the ­changes in the world of digital, which embraces all the efforts mentioned above and more.

The recent growth in social networks, online communities, collaboration tools and technologies, data processing and management, reporting, and even cloud and performance are all data points that enable a smart CEO or CIO to see how the world is changing.

Trying to do outbound email campaigns in a world ruled by social networks is as close to idiotic as it can get; personalizing those campaigns based on inbound needs shown by each customer and delivering that message via the preferred pull channel is closer to what you are supposed to be doing (as a simple example). But how do your alter and change your business, your processes, your technologies, and your strategies to accomplish that?

This is where digital transformation becomes a very interesting discipline…and the one to watch in the next few years. As we start to change the way we do business, we realize the few morsels left by the recent years we can leverage:

• Big data is just data; it forced us to think how to use it in near-real time.

• Social is just a set of channels; they enhance collaboration so we can work in ecosystems.

• Cloud is a set of distributed computing technologies; they enable secure, fast, easy integration.

• Knowledge is what powers the world of work; it is everywhere and must be used wisely.

• The purpose of business has not changed—it is still all about making money. What changes are the serendipitous outcomes: happier customers, effective ecosystems, and improved delivery against known expectations in shorter timeframes.

There’s your status for 2013. Check back with me next year and we may do it all again.

Happy New Year.

 

Esteban Kolsky is the principal and founder of ThinkJar, an advisory and research think tank focused on customer strategies. He has more than 25 years of experience in customer service and CRM consulting, research, and advisory services. He spent eight years at Gartner, and has assisted Fortune 500 and Global 2000 organizations in all aspects of their CRM deployments.

by Esteban Kolsky

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Page 1
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